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Elsecar Heritage Center - Travel For Gravel

  • Date: 01 June 2024
  • By: Martin Bagshaw

Saturday 1st June, the first official day of summer, and the weather delivered for our latest gravel ride. Arranged by John & Lindsey it was advertised as one of their favourite loops, with a mix of surfaces from old packhorse bridleways, tracks and the well surfaced Trans Pennine Trail so we were looking forward to a great day.


There were a couple of hiccups at the start, first one being Lindsey was unable to attend due to a shoulder injury, get well soon Lindsey. Also, Martin Jones who was supposed to be joining us, missed the departure due to a timing faux pas. That said there were seven of us so keeping together shouldn’t be an issue.


Straight out of the carpark we were off road and started a relatively gentle, undulating climb that went on for seven miles which sounds horrendous, but the climbing was punctuated with some flat bits and even a few down hill bits. Add this to the fact were in beautiful woodlands and rolling countryside meant the miles just ticked by and before we knew it, we were in Wortley.


We passed the inviting Countess Tea Rooms where we had stopped on previous rides, our goal was a pub lunch at The Travellers Rest so on we pressed. From Wortley we enjoyed a fast descent on the road to turn right and pass through Wortley Wagu & Cote Green Farm. I know it’s a gravel ride, but a bit of tarmac does make a change from the off-road vibrations!


We were now on our first visit to the Trans Pennine Trail and enjoyed some more tarmac, this time traffic free, through lovely woodland and, being as it was an old railway line, it was flat, meaning progress was good and we got to Thurgoland Tunnel in no time. At 282m long the tunnel was opened in 1845 and was used by trains up to 1983 when the Sheffield – Huddersfield service was diverted via Barnsley.


History lesson over we continued on the scenic, flat TPT until we got to Oxspring where we descended on a well-made path to the valley bottom where we crossed the River Don on the historic Willow Bridge believed to have been built in 1734 for Pack Horses. After crossing the bridge our Ride Leader advised selecting granny gears for a steep climb out of the valley. Steep is an understatement; I could have done with one of the old pack horses to get me up and only made it about halfway before getting off to walk. Chapeau to the members of the group who made it to the top, I need to re-visit to tick it off.


From the top of the climb, it was only a short ride to the pub, so we didn’t delay too long after re-grouping but we were in for a shock finding it closed! We’d made good time and arrived 30 minutes before opening time so after a quick planning meeting we decided to press on to the next pub / café somewhere up the route.


We were at the highest point of the route now so it was quite literally all down hill from here back to Elesecar. We travelled five more miles, again on the scenic tarmacked TPT but this time working with gravity rather than against it which is always good. Arriving at Worsborough we took a detour off the TPT to visit Worsborough Mill for lunch which was excellent and more than compensated for the missed pub lunch. Suitably refreshed we re-joined the TPT for the final 8-mile leg back to Elescar Heritage Centre, all off road and all through lovely woods and along country trails.


Only one way to finish a ride like this, a pint of real ale in the sunshine outside Masion Du Biere. Comedy moment of the day was watching Matt stuffing cans of beer into the back pocket of his jersey for the ride to the carpark like a top domestique.


Great ride John, thanks for sorting the route, definitely one we’ll be doing again in the future.

Martin B